Despite the complexity of their design, solar panels require little to almost no maintenance. A solar panel consists of up to 72 solar cells made from crystalline silicon. Anti-reflective coating is applied to the surface of the cells to make them absorb more light. Tempered glass, six times stronger than ordinary glass protects the solar cells.
Solar panels have a lifespan of up to 25 years. In some cases, they may last even longer, as there are panels that were made in 1960 that are still operational today. In the course of its lifespan, a solar panel is exposed to extreme heat and cold. Solar panels get as hot as 150 degrees Fahrenheit on a roof.
Seeing as they are such a complex piece of technology being put through the harshest working conditions, you would naturally assume that they might need a lot of maintenance. Surprisingly, solar panels require minimal maintenance.
In this article, we will share the simple steps you need to take to keep your solar panels in good working order. We will share how often you need to do maintenance on them as well as the entire solar system.
On a side note! If you’re in need of a reliable and high-performance portable solar panel, We strongly recommend the Jackery SolarSaga 100W Portable Solar Panel (Amazon Link).
With a high conversion efficiency and foldable design, this solar panel is easy to transport and set up, making it perfect for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and RV trips.
The US solar cell technology used in this panel ensures that you get the most efficient and reliable solar charging possible.
There is also a 60W option that is more affordable (Amazon Link)
- How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?
- What Are the Maintenance Procedures for A Solar Installation?
- Is It Difficult to Maintain Solar Panels?
- What Happens if Your Solar Panel Fails?
- Do Solar Inverters Need Servicing?
How Often Do Solar Panels Need Maintenance?
Aside from cleaning them once every six months, your solar panels function with very little by way of maintenance. The most critical things you need to do to keep them working well are to keep them clean and ensure they receive direct sunlight.
To produce its optimum amount of energy a solar panel needs as much light as it can get. While it can produce from artificial light, sunlight is far much better as it has more energy. You can ensure your solar panel receives more sunlight by doing two simple things.
Clean your solar panels
Dirt can reduce the efficiency of a solar panel by up to 6%. This can be as much as 50% in desert areas or places with high air pollution. Dirt forms a layer of shade that makes it hard for the solar panel to absorb light, reducing its efficiency. (Source). Also check out our post on Why Can’t We Put Solar Panels In The Desert?
Not only does the output of the solar panel suffer, but the solar cells can also get damaged as well. The reduction in a cell’s absorption can make it act as a resistance to the current flow in other cells causing them to heat up and fail.
Rain is generally enough to wash the dust from solar panels. You should however carry out inspections every 6 to 12 months to make sure the rain is getting all the dirt out. Bird droppings for instance do not wash off as easily as dust.
Here, you may need to wash the solar panels. You can do this with some soap water and a soft brush in the early morning or late evening on a cool day. You should never wash solar panels on a hot afternoon as the cool water on a hot panel can cause the glass to crack.
Position your solar panels correctly
Over time tree branches can grow or new buildings may go up and throw shade on your solar panels. Shading will reduce the output of your solar panels and possibly damage them if there is too much.
You should carry out inspections and trim any branches hanging over your solar panels to prevent shading and the possibility of them falling on your solar panels in a storm.
What Are the Maintenance Procedures for A Solar Installation?
Solar systems require checks and servicing on the components, the wiring, and the fittings that tie the system together. Primarily you need to check for corrosion, damage, or dirt to any part of the system.
Solar system maintenance checklist
You should carry out periodic checks for the following:
- Check for cracks on the solar panel. The extreme heat and cold solar panels are exposed to can cause small cracks in the glass that protects the solar cells.
- Check for corrosion, rust, or damage to the wiring. Animals like rats and squirrels can chew through your wiring. The junction box that connects your solar panels to the rest of the system is especially vulnerable to corrosion due to exposure to moisture outside. For more on this, we recommend that you check out our post What Is A Junction Box In A Solar Panel? Its Function – (Complete Guide)
- Check for dirt on your solar panels. Clean any dust or grime from the panels. If you have batteries in your system keep the terminals clean.
Is It Difficult to Maintain Solar Panels?
Solar panels are fairly easy to maintain. Solar panels are durable pieces of electronic equipment built to last for up to 25 years. As long as you keep them clean and in direct sunlight solar panels should not give you much if any cause for maintenance.
Solar panel degradation
Solar panels experience natural wear and tear like any other electrical equipment. They also experience what is known as degradation. Solar panel degradation is the gradual decline in a solar panel’s efficiency over time.
Fortunately, the rate of degradation is relatively small, especially considering the conditions a solar panel is exposed to. The rate of degradation is between 0.5 to 0.8% per year. What this means is that after 25 years, a solar panel will operate at about 80% efficiency due to loss from degradation. (Source)
Strangely enough solar panel degradation is caused by exposure to sunlight. As this is a result of using the solar panel there is nothing you can do to prevent degradation.
What Happens if Your Solar Panel Fails?
Solar panels have a 25-year warranty. The warranty covers the performance of the solar panel and any material defects in the solar panel. Under the terms of the warranty, the manufacturer will replace or repair the solar panel if it produces energy below its maximum efficiency or if it fails. (Source)
Also, find out How Long Do (Tesla) Solar Roofs Last? How Long For It to Pay for Itself!
Do Solar Inverters Need Servicing?
Just like solar panels, a solar inverter requires very little servicing. The primary things you need to do to maintain a solar inverter are to keep it in a cool environment where airflow is not restricted and routinely check for error codes.